My on-line diary began in the 1990's from my studio in the North of England. After a lapse of ten years, I resumed posting from my present studio on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

From the far beginning, the intention has been to give an insight into my working methods, and to share the triumphs, trials and tribulations of work-in-progress.

My diary pages are followed by thousands of artists, art students and art lovers in over 50 countries.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The lyrical vs the passionate

When landscapes, townscapes and seascapes were my means of survival, I strove to be lyrical:  now, with the figure, I strive to be passionate.

Either way, my approach is the same. I have to confront the real thing, be it a tree or my model, and I have to make my statement at the speed of light. I remember dodging a shower of rain for this painting of Halifax parish church.

During my engineering apprenticeship days I took a short cut through the church grounds to get to work. On the floor of the porch is the gravestone to a remarkable man that fathered 32 children. A feat made all the more notable as he was away fighting the wars for 18 years! At least those numbers are to the best of my memory. On reading this, I am sure that my brother, who still lives within a few miles of the church, will be down there with his camera to correct my inaccuracies.

The soldier’s amazing feat of strength and stamina reminds me of a statement made by Winston Churchill.  On reading in the Times that a pensioner had made sexually advances to young lady in Hyde Park in freezing cold weather, he remarked to his colleague on the front bench: “Makes you proud to be an Englishman”.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Accessorizing your lifestyle

What may seem to be the sales solution for a painter and sculptor working from a studio hidden within the idyllic interior of a remote Caribbean island; isn’t. I refer to selling art on-line.

There are scores of sites, tens of thousands of artists and millions - yes, millions – of images. I’ve tried them all, from the user friendly low key to the aloof curated high key. In between the two are the shopping baskets of the out and out commercial that can offer my coy nudes as shower curtains, duvet covers, and beach bags. Whichever way, I was better off on the pavements of France or beneath a palm tree in the Virgin Islands.

But then again, I do not want to “accessorize your lifestyle” as one on-line site puts it. I just want to share my passion for what I perceive to be profound and beautiful. The MA’s in History of Art curators don’t get it. But occasionally, someone like Anna, who commented on my last post, does.

Today’s picture (in the beauty going begging category) is a portrait bust that I made three years ago of my poetic model Jessica.

As the mid-day temperature here in Dominica is way into the 90’s, I’ll mull over the vicissitudes of an artists’ life while walking down to the river and taking a dip in our bathing hole. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The bare minimum

Photographers of the nude invariably place their models in derelict buildings or on idyllic sea shores and most painters of the nude allow their subjects the comfort of cushioned interiors.

In contrast, my paintings of the nude favour the bare minimum, both in setting and technique. I offer no distractions and I do not patronise the viewer with detailed finish. What I do offer, through my paintings and these diary pages, is an invitation to enter into the creative process.

If I’m repetitive; so be it: if I bore you; hard lines. I know of no other way of finding what I’m searching for. And if per chance – usually by accident rather than intent – I succeed, there is then the difficulty of seducing you, the recipient, by way of a language that you can learn to understand.

Today’s feverish searching in lines and paint, says it all.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sleeping four to a bed

…I have only one bed in which four of us sleep…I am without shoes and without clothes… I live in the midst of the greatest hardships and of countless anxieties...I have not known one hour of well being…

The above is not an account of poverty in the Third World, but extracts from Michelangelo’s diary at the time he was painting the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. He goes on to say:

…I blame it on the times which are anything but favourable to our art…It would be easier to resuscitate the dead than to make this town art conscious…

Those of us that today labour upon the forge of art realise that nothing much has changed!

Many of Michelangelo’s preliminary drawings were made in red chalk, a similar material to what I used almost thirty years ago for these drawings of my model Alice. You will note that the figure is discreetly draped for in those days I had not the courage to work from the nude.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I have not seen as others saw

As a painter it is necessary for me to have a different way of seeing. My task is to see beauty where it has not been seen before. But in doing so, I make life difficult for myself and difficult for others to patronise what I create.

  • I work in watercolour and watercolours are not readily marketable.
  • I paint the female nude: a subject that most buyers are shy of.
  • My models are Afro-Caribbean: black rather than white.
  • I resist the abstract: my figures are physical and passionate.
  • I work rapidly and suggest rather than define detail, and it is in laboured detail that buyers consider they get their money’s worth.

For my good friend and kindred soul, the Virgin Island poet Sheila Hyndman Wheatley (1958-1991), I choose this poem for her memorial service. It may well be equally as fitting for mine.

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; nor could I awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)

Today’s painting is my most recent and in the very same vein.